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Should Games Be More Boring?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the are-talking-like-drake-and-the-ninety-nine-dragons-boring dept.

Programming 180

An anonymous reader writes "At Gamasutra, serious games creator Ian Bogost is making the case that video games should be more mundane, particularly discussing of Nintendo' Brain Age: 'It's certainly a very different kind of game from Halo or even Miyamoto's own Zelda series, games that allow the player to inhabit complex fantasy worlds. Instead, much of Brain Age's success seems to come precisely from the ordinariness of its demands.' Would games become more accessible if they tapped into everyday things a little bit more, as opposed to spiralling off into fictional realities?"

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180 comments

Let the market decide (0, Redundant)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#19240813)

If there is a market for games of this type then they will take off.
I know Nintendo have opened up whole new genres recently and some work, others don't.
That's just like life.

Re:Let the market decide (4, Insightful)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241489)

"Let the market decide"?

Thank you Captain Obvious. Since the author of the article wasn't suggesting that such games be given special government funding, or that people be forced to play them at gunpoint, then the market will decide anyway.

He's quite entitled to make suggestions, companies are free to ignore them, or consumers free to not buy them. You seem to be implying that anything outside some artificially restricted concept of "The Market" is not valid; i.e. software houses decide what to produce based only on their own opinions/research and consumers either buy or don't.

Chanting "let the market decide" like a mantra isn't meaningful or insightful; it's redundant.

Re:Let the market decide (1)

Tatisimo (1061320) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241793)

people be forced to play them at gunpoint

That reminded me of the conspiracy people in the 70s and 80s saying that the government recruited kids with high scores for the army. How low have they sunk! Now they force you to get high scores!

Re:Let the market decide (1)

jkauzlar (596349) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243225)

"The Last Starfighter"

I think it was on Showtime everyday for several years while I was growing up. I have similar fantasies that all of my work in Kobo Deluxe will pay off. I'm on level 647.

Re:Let the market decide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19241851)

Chanting "let the market decide" like a mantra isn't meaningful or insightful; it's redundant.
Yeah I agree. But I only had one mod point left and your post won the coin toss.

Re:Let the market decide (5, Insightful)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243277)

The real problem is the concept of "The Market." Games like Brain Age appeal to a different audience than RPGs. Economically, they are barely related. They aren't substitutes or complements. They just run on the same systems as different genre games. People don't go to a store looking for an FPS and walk out with Pong. Asking "should games be more boring?" is like asking "should everything on TV be more like soap operas?" Like with TV shows, the market for video games is too broad to really be treated as a single market. What TFA should have asked is "have the video game companies been paying enough attention to the arcade and puzzle game markets?"

Re:Let the market decide (4, Insightful)

rblancarte (213492) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241569)

The biggest thing here is that Gamasutra is missing the point.

Brain Age is not a popular game because it is boring or because it has such a broad appeal. It is popular because it is good. Just like Zelda and Halo (NIMHO, but that isn't the point). Good games will always be popular. Bad games will go the way of Diakatana.

When it comes to games, the point is make something that is quality work. If it is, it will find a market to appeal to. Again, look back a number of weeks [slashdot.org] when Geometry Wars was being talked about. Is that game boring? No. It is simple, but the real key, it is really fun. Hence, why it is so popular.

I will say this, if a Game "Magazine/web site" is making this article, I really have to question their credibility.

RonB

Re:Let the market decide (1)

sgilti (668665) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243197)

some work, others don't. That's just like life.


Exactly, and just like life, those that work end up paying for those that don't. =)

Umm.... (1, Insightful)

Drakemaw (797274) | more than 6 years ago | (#19240863)

No

Re:Umm.... (2, Informative)

buswolley (591500) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241883)

Hmm. Exactly. Why is the article equating boring with games like Brain Age? Maybe games which don't have a whole complex world in them can be..umm what's that word.. oh yeah.. FUN. Complex games can be boring.. Quite a lot of them are.

Re:Umm.... (2, Insightful)

stOPHER978 (996221) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243509)

We do have boring games.. World of Warcraft. In fact boring games are equivalent with easy games.

Boring vs Diverse (4, Informative)

Raindance (680694) | more than 6 years ago | (#19240879)

Of course games shouldn't be more boring (with the caveat that games should stay away from pressing peoples' addiction buttons).

But yes, I think it would be good (for developers and for gamers) for games to break out into more genres. Here's a quote from Rod Humble, Executive Producer of The Sims, which neatly sums up a good way to think about this:

I don't know if there's any fixed lifecycle for the Sims franchise because I think that it can go a lot more places. Part of the mandate that I had when I took over the position is to really break this franchise out into a more mainstream audience. So the way I like to look at the franchise is walk into a bookstore and take every video game you know and just place them on a shelf in the bookstore. And I think you'll find they tend to cluster a lot in certain areas in the bookstore. And I want the Sims to fill up the rest of the bookstore.

Re:Boring vs Diverse (1)

mehemiah (971799) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241113)

ignorign the generas that you probibly can't fit a game into, (self help books is questionable here, reference books is the example i want to use) which generas does he suggest, realistic fiction, short fiction?

Re:Boring vs Diverse (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19241845)

Could they make a spell-checking game?

Re:Boring vs Diverse (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242741)

I don't see why not. There's typing tutor games. Some are even extremely fun like Typing of the Dead. You can make a game out of just about anything. I'm sure you could make a spell-checking game that's a lot more fun than some of the other games out there.

Re:Boring vs Diverse (1)

rossifer (581396) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242141)

Exactly. TFA makes the case that not all games should be romps through exciting fantasy worlds. It doesn't say that exciting games are a bad idea, just that game companies and distribution channels would be wise to have a larger perspective on what constitutes a potentially successful game.

My take on what he's saying: other companies should be more like Nintendo, and there's nothing stopping them from growing the gaming market (the same way Nintendo is successfully doing) once they decide to put away their blinders.

Ross

Gosh what a great idea: (5, Funny)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#19240885)

Just to get the imaginative juices flowing for developers here are some great ideas:

Virtual paint drying
Virtual grass growing
Virtual lawn mowing
Virtual gutter cleaning
Virtual root canal
Virtual hoop-pushing down a virtual dirt road with a virtual stick

I'm sure developers could take these a long way and I'm sure we can all agree we greatly anticipate the results

Re:Gosh what a great idea: (2, Funny)

rkanodia (211354) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241587)

I'm looking forward to 3D Stuck In A Meeting.

Re:Gosh what a great idea: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242697)

Isn't that already happening with IBM holding meetings in Second Life?

Re:Gosh what a great idea: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242769)

I remember some "eye toy" game where you cleaned windows...

Not just Brain Age (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#19240899)

Instead, much of Brain Age's success seems to come precisely from the ordinariness of its demands.
Are they talking about Brain Age or Animal Crossing?

I say (1)

Sobieski (1032500) | more than 6 years ago | (#19240909)

Simulators are the way to go, simulate everything thats possible to simulate, so far I've sailed boats, driven busses, flown airplanes and got shot to death without even leaving my desk!

Silly Guy (3, Insightful)

Mephistophocles (930357) | more than 6 years ago | (#19240969)

Heh no. I sort of he's coming from but he missed the boat, badly. I think that what developers should try to understand is that there is no "magic formula" for creating a good game. You can't feed the "fun" factor into a checklist and hit every point to get a good game. I think that in order to design a good game, it's necessary to try to think in entirely different terms. Great games are born from innovative and creative concepts, which are then mobilized using creative and fun stories, interfaces, graphics, etc. I'm not at all saying it's a crap shoot - I'm saying that once you start thinking in terms of formula, you lose the creative aspect of the game, and arguably, the fun factor as well. And that's what makes a game great - and of course it's also what ultimately makes it sell.

Anti-Drama... (1, Insightful)

7Prime (871679) | more than 6 years ago | (#19240971)

I think it partially stems from the fact that the US, in particular, has this sort of aversion to drama and abstraction, in general. We seem to prefer the "realistic" to the "fantastic", partially because fantasy and mellodrama offend so easily. In fantasy, and mellodrama, the audience is required to open up themselves in various ways, emotionally and imaginitively, that I think a lot of people feel a bit self-concious of doing. It's also kind of a macho thing too, guys aren't supposed to be emotional or particularly imaginative.

I think this sorta explains the rise of GTA over fantasy games, but I think it also begins to explain the distinction between Brain Age and fantasy/drama titles.

Re:Anti-Drama... (5, Insightful)

zegota (1105649) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241411)

"Fantastic" does not apply solely to games with swords and dragons -- GTA is fantastical in many ways. Furthermore, GTA sold well mainly because it is a fun game. There have been other games that have tried to copy the same style of storytelling and "realism" in the GTA games, but without the fun, and most of these games haven't come close to copying GTAs success. However, I think you a very flawed in saying that realism wins out over fantasy in America. Final Fantasy is still one of the top selling game series. Madden is up there too, however. Shows like CSI and Grey's Anatomy, though hardly 'realistic', are probably not considered fantasy and are very successful. Shows like Lost and Heroes, however, are very fantastic and also garner fantastic ratings (well, Lost is falling, but that is for other reasons). I think my point is that American culture embraces a mix of both dramatic realism and escapism nearly equally. Some people completely shun realism, some completely shun fantasy, but most are okay with both.

About as Anti-Drama as Hollywood is (4, Insightful)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242147)

I think it partially stems from the fact that the US, in particular, has this sort of aversion to drama and abstraction, in general.
You're kidding, right?

I sincerely hope this isn't taken as a troll, but George W Bush himself always came across to me as someone playing a movie-style president for an electorate brought up on the same thing. Not just the gung-ho mentality, but the whole package.

Maybe I'm wrong, but my gut reaction is that you're so soaked in this that you can't see it. Or are you implying that US society is much *less* influenced by images in popular culture than others are?

And you have an aversion to abstraction? Advertising and branding, the red-blood of All-American capitalism *is* abstraction of values. How else does a simple tick-shaped "swoosh" symbol, or some pretty white writing on a red background saying "Coca Cola" have so much meaning? It's not that Nike goods or Coca Cola are so much better than the competition; it's that they have so much imagery associated with them. It's bordering on hyperreality [wikipedia.org].

I think this sorta explains the rise of GTA over fantasy games,
GTA realistic? It's not exactly Ridley Scott's "Legend", but it's still a white boy's safe fantasy of black urban life.

but I think it also begins to explain the distinction between Brain Age and fantasy/drama titles.
Wasn't Brain Age/Dr. Kawashima a Japanese success to start off with before it did well in the US? The stereotype of American entertainment isn't "small-scale realism", it's big-bucks blockbusters.

I appreciate that there's been a move to "reality" TV in recent years, but if your reality shows are anything like ours in the UK, then they're contrived situations set up like a lab experiment designed to provoke drama and edited to play out like a real-life soap.

If reality TV reflects anything, it's the increasingly artificial and contrived direction modern society is moving towards, everyone's life played out as 15 minutes of TV fame.

Re:About as Anti-Drama as Hollywood is (1)

benzapp (464105) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243077)

I sincerely hope this isn't taken as a troll, but George W Bush himself always came across to me as someone playing a movie-style president for an electorate brought up on the same thing. Not just the gung-ho mentality, but the whole package.

Maybe I'm wrong, but my gut reaction is that you're so soaked in this that you can't see it. Or are you implying that US society is much *less* influenced by images in popular culture than others are?


Only a naive fool believes that those who oppose him are simply victims of propaganda. Propaganda is all around us, no one makes a value judgment without being greatly influenced by various artistic mediums.

Is Superman radically different than Ulysses? No, not really.

People you are dangerous for the simple reason you have no respect for the decisions people make. Rather than understand their failings, you invalidate them. Frequently, some of the worst oppression has resulted from this.

Democracy is certainly a failure, but a truly noble heart shows a bit more respect and compassion for those who have shown they cannot take care of themselves.

Re:Anti-Drama... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242501)

We seem to prefer the "realistic" to the "fantastic", partially because fantasy and mellodrama offend so easily ...
I think this sorta explains the rise of GTA over fantasy games


You're right! Because GTA and Hot Coffee definitely didn't offend anyone.

Movie analogy. (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243091)

I don't think it has anything to do with drama, or abstraction. It just comes down to the fact that for many people including myself, we *don't* like pretending to be dwarfs, fairies, wizards,warlocks, or even giants. People have their own definition of fun, and thats okay. Just because its not fantasy doesn't mean its not "creative" or "not boring". Believe it or not, their is a reason why Seinfeld and not firefly is the greatest tv show ever, and it has nothing to do with how "boring" one is or how much or more "creative" one is.

Re:Movie analogy. (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243255)

Sorry fro replying to my own post. I just realized that my post had nothing to do with movies. Oh well. its a good title anyways. It will most likey be modded down because someone will think I'm dissing fantasy and or firefly.

Fantasy Sells Systems. PERIOD. (2, Insightful)

Rachel Lucid (964267) | more than 6 years ago | (#19240975)

Having a few 'mundane' games is one thing, particularly if we're talking Nintendo's type of mundane in terms of Nintendogs, WiiPlay, and the like.

The fact is, Fantastic games are what sell systems. I begged for my first PlayStation (one) thanks to Spyro the Dragon, and had Sega been on the ball a little more, NiGHTS would've let 'em sell quite a few more systems too. Brain Age is an okay game, but when I reach for my DS, I have Elite Beat Agents, Mario, Sonic, Cooking Mama, FF3... you get where I'm going with this.

Brain Age is a good secondary game as a 'pick up and play' offering. It's NOT what made the DS a success.

Yes, but so do other games... (1)

tweak4 (1074671) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243309)

It may not have made the DS a success, but I'd certainly say it contributed. I fear I don't have any specific sales numbers to back that up, but I can say that my wife got a DS specifically to play Brain Age. Within a week of first seeing ours, my sister-in-law bought one for the same reason, and shortly after that, so did my parents. Surely we can't be the only DS owners in the world for which games like Brain Age & Big Brain Academy were the tipping point...

boring, or mundane? (4, Insightful)

theStorminMormon (883615) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241011)

I notice the actual question has to do with fantasy realities, and that the motivation is making games more accesible. This is analogous to saying "should we stop making fantasy books so that people read more books?" After all, not everyone is for 800-page novels with dozens of characters (often with unpronounceable names) and make-believe politics and geogrpaphy. Not to mention magic and possibly mythical creatures.

So should we stop writing fantasy?

How about we just keep writing fantasy, and also let people interested in straight-fiction just read straight-fiction. We can also have mysteries, educational books, sci-fi, horror, philosophy, etc.

Why criticize a genre to "help" a medium? Computer games are a medium. Fantasy games are a genre in that medium. If there's great response to brain age: make more games like it. There's no more reason to cut fantasy than there would be to cut the fantasy section of a bookstore.

Re:boring, or mundane? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19241891)

This is analogous to saying "should we stop making fantasy books so that people read more books?"


I think the analog fails in the respect that once you've read a book, it loses a lot of it's re-read ability. Where as a "fun" game doesn't lose it's replay ability after you've beaten it.

Other than choose your own adventure books, books always have the same ending, and someone isn't as likely to spend years reading the same book, over, and over, and over again as someone one is to play the same video game. Once someone is done with the book, they may read it again in a few months/years, but chances are they put it on their shelf right away. Once someone beats the final boss of a video game doesn't mean they're done with it. Often times that someone then goes through and tries to find all the secrets, get hidden or 'secret' characters, or maybe they rush through it, to beat it as fast as possible, or without getting hit, or...

Once you 'beat' the last guy of a video game doesn't mean you've seen everything. Once you've read to the last page of a book does mean you've have seen everything.

I'm not disagreeing nor agreeing with your point, just pointing out that the book analogy is a weak one.

Re:boring, or mundane? (2, Insightful)

Headw1nd (829599) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241923)

I think if you look at his quote "Some proponents of serious games have unfortunately suggested that such games are opposed to the commercial, entertainment games that have come to define popular opinion of the medium." you can see that he's not interested in making games less exciting/fantastical, but rather making more unexciting/less fantastical games. Fantasy games would continue to exist in the numbers they do now, but alongside them would exist more mundane games. As a result, the culture as a whole would become more invested in gaming. I think what he is challenging is the assumption that exciting, fantastical games are the only games that anyone would play, not challenging the worthiness of those games.

My own personal view is that this has already started to happen, via MMO's. As an MMO player myself (COH), I think we can admit that for the most part, MMO's are boring. They require insane amounts of time and feature a steady stream of simple, repetitive tasks. Yet they are full of people, many with little other interest in gaming.

Like Skate or Die? Or The Simpsons? Or The Sims? (4, Insightful)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241023)

Would games become more accessible if they tapped into everyday things a little bit more, as opposed to spiralling off into fictional realities?


Hello Ian and welcome to the games industry! (You noob.)

You might want to look up games such as The Sims, all the various Simpsons spin-offs or even Skate or Die or Paperboy from a previous generation. (i.e., its been done many, many times before.)

Gah (3, Funny)

toolie (22684) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241025)

This article reinforces my belief that most people are complete and total idiots and don't have anything better to do than show everybody else how much they just don't get it.

Yeah, yeah, I know... kind of like this post.

The immense user base of... (1)

Ellidi T (941495) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241043)

..Eve Online the Mining Simulator and DaoC the Jogging Simulator seems to think so.

Ordinary != Boring (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241049)

It's absolutely ordinary for there to be shootings in South Central LA, but it's not boring.

To say Brain Age is boring because the tasks are ordinary displays stupidity and a lack of vocabulary. Rather simple vocabulary, I might add.

Also, the link is to the third page of the story, which is where Brain Age is discussed, but it is bad form.

Enough about the stupidity of anonymous cowards and their story submissions, on to where I talk shit about the article!

The article is just pathetic. "television is so familiar, it's not even startling to think about television programming produced solely to discuss other media forms." This is in response to a comment about TV shows about making movies. But there are movies about making things, and on this planet we call them documentaries. This lack of ability to stop and notice reality pervades the article, which is split into three pages to garner ad impressions, but has little enough content to have been on one page of this size.

His summary (which is not actually a summary - this not being an essay, but a meandering rant) follows: "we should want games to be more boring. Not just some games, we should want many of them, maybe even most of them to be boring, so that the ones that are not can become the Casablancas of our future medium." What he seems to be saying here is that we should want games to be crap, so that the non-crap can look even better by comparison.

Say it with me: mundane does not equal boring. Sure, most things which are mundane are also boring. But then there's sex.

Re:Ordinary != Boring (3, Insightful)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242157)

It sounds like the guy who wrote the article just wanted some attention. He probably just thought of the most incorrect statement he could make and went with it.

Here are some more statements he could have made that would grab people's attention:

"Games with animals turn gamers to bestiality"
"Wii games should cost $500"
"Gamers might contract gonnorhea from the PS3"
"One-Dimensional Games: An untapped market"
"GTA4 should not have cars in it."

*Extremely* wrong headline (5, Interesting)

HanClinto (621615) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241057)

Mundane != Boring.

This title is just wrong. Zonk, is there any way we could please change it?

Mundane [answers.com] means commonplace, everyday, ordinary. Boring means uninteresting. Not the same. The article is not saying that games should be less interesting -- the article is saying that games could do well to apply more to real life, and to real skills (I.E. Smooth Moves having players balance brooms on their hands).

I'm all for making games more mundane -- I think it's a great idea, and it's a phenomenal idea for making games ultimately more fun. If "fun" is about learning patterns (as Raph Koster [theoryoffun.com] posits), then it only makes sense to build off of patterns that are found in real life (hence why driving games are so much fun).

However, I'm [b]not[/b] in support of making the games boring.

Re:*Extremely* wrong headline (1)

Infinityis (807294) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243419)

DMCA Takedown Request

Our system has detected that you are using an unlicenced copy of the game "First Life". Please discontinue use of "First Life" or it may be subjected to automatic termination in accordance with the EULA.

Remember, you are always welcome to try out our shareware version "First Gestation" for free for up to nine months.

Re:*Extremely* wrong headline (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243425)

Well what it comes down to is the author finds these games boring and makes the common mistake of thinking everybody feels the same.
Everybody thinks different things are boring.
I like to read books about physics but I could care less the name of Madonna's husband/boyfriend.
To me the fundamental structure of all of creation is more exciting than a celebrity's love life.
But let's face it I am in the minority.

Re:*Extremely* wrong headline (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243569)

Well what it comes down to is the author finds these games boring and makes the common mistake of thinking everybody feels the same.

I can already see the next headline for a topic regarding the teaching of evolution in schools:
"Should Our Tax Money Sponsor Condemning Our Children to Eternal Suffering In Hell?"

I don't agree with Gamasutra's assessment (2, Insightful)

DefenderThree (920248) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241145)

Brain Age's success doesn't come from being "ordinary," otherwise the myriad of chess, sudoku, and crossword games would have brought in massive sales. Its strength is derived from its accessibility and simplicity: not everyone has the time, energy, skills, or desire to learn complex building trees, resources management, or practice their trigger finger. Every man, woman, and child above the age of seven can add simple numbers, count objects, and match things. Further, the assigned tasks are short and mentally satisfying, not appealingly "ordinary."

Re:I don't agree with Gamasutra's assessment (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241801)

Sometimes its nice just to sit down and play for half an hour. I was playing Zelda Twilight Princess (GC) last night, and I already had 2 key shards from the second dungeon from when I saved last time, I was right up to the point before where you fight the big fat rolling stone guy. It still took me an hour to finish the dungeon. And it's not like I got particularly stuck on any section. I spend another half hour running around the town afterwards collecting stuff, and buying new items. I like the game a lot. It's tons of fun. Probably the best Zelda game I've ever played. But it's not something you can just sit down and play for 30 minutes. By the time your 30 minutes is up, you're just getting into it. Games need to be of all kinds to attract the widest audience. When I want to play for 30 minutes, I get super monkey ball, Mario Kart, or something else like that. We need games of all types. Even for people like me, who enjoy playing long drawn out games.

More BORING? (3, Insightful)

Psx29 (538840) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241159)

I think this is just phrased so bad, maybe brain-age is boring to you. But it's obviously not boring to all those people playing it and enjoying it. If something is boring why the hell would people enjoy it? I personally find all those MMORPGs boring as hell but to my friend who is addicted it's like crack, I mean I don't say "Should more games be boring--just like MMORPGs". Anyway just a bad title....

Re:More BORING? Oxymoron: Great (1)

Domo-Sun (585730) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243629)

Oxymoron: Popular game Brain Age is Boring.

Yeah, the title is totally wrong:
Boring: Uninteresting and tiresome; dull.
Synonyms: boring, monotonous, tedious, irksome, tiresome, humdrum.

How About (3, Insightful)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241169)

Use existing graphics, cut your graphics/sound/artist dept. down by 80% and use the rest of the time to make an interesting game. Doesn't matter the genre, just make it fun/interesting/etc.

Look they are people out there who are all over ass sweat on the body they just shot. Great. Too bad ass sweat doesn't actually make the game good.

Given X the total time from start to finish how much of X is not on something relating to actually game play experience?

Marketing challenge ... "We made it extra boring" (4, Funny)

ConfusedSelfHating (1000521) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241175)

Accounting: The Game

Paperwork IV: The Redemption

Diablo III: Excel spreadsheet edition

1080p Crossword Puzzles

Starcraft 2: Zerg Human Resources

Grand Theft Auto V: Insurance Adjuster

Half Life 3: You actually work out the half life of a given element

Re:Marketing challenge ... "We made it extra borin (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241661)

You jest, I made a game where you can become an accountant:
http://www.kudosgame.com/ [kudosgame.com]
It does really well. Maybe that's because you can also be a skateboarding molecular biologist who arrests street criminals using kung fu. Who knows?

Re:Marketing challenge ... "We made it extra borin (1)

Gobiner (698872) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243653)

Starcraft 2: Zerg Human Resources
Actually, I think this could be a fantastic machinima short. "Hello, welcome. You're a zergling, eh? Well we have many positions open on the front line! The work is exciting and very suited to your skillset."

Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19241197)

There's a whole genere of boring games out there, they're called MMORPG's.
Seriously, who wants to grind for months just to have a chance to get the "ZOMG SWORD OF ULTIMATE PWNAGE"

MMOs boring? (2, Insightful)

tweak4 (1074671) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243407)

There's a whole genere of boring games out there, they're called MMORPG's. Seriously, who wants to grind for months just to have a chance to get the "ZOMG SWORD OF ULTIMATE PWNAGE"
Umm... how about the several million subscribers that currently plop down $15/month to their game of choice? If no one wanted to, none of these games would exist, so obviously someone does...

Missing the point (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241233)

Games are distractions. Viewed from a clinical perspective, they are all chores. Why should I blow up the bad guy's superweapon again? Or take out that legion of storm troopers trying to kill me? Why should I bother solving some random number puzzle to access this door?

Most gamers would reply, "that's different!" But is it really? If you're not all that interested in video games, living out a fantasy like that might not be interesting. In fact, it may very well feel like a chore. (

(As a side note, this is why I stopped playing first person shooters save for those that take place in fictional universes that interest me. e.g. Elite Forces. FPS games were becoming a repetitive task of "avoid the zombie attacks, shoot the bad guys, avoid the zombie attacks, shoot the bad guys." Online gameplay was marginally more interesting with, "shoot other guy, get shot by someone else, shoot the other guy, get shot by someone else." But I digress.)

Generally speaking, when you view or interact with entertainment you are looking to invoke an emotional connection of some sort. A highly developed sense for a particular form of entertainment allows one to appreciate complex forms of it more readily than others. Meanwhile, some just want forms that evoke a simple reaction to a simple form of that entertainment.

To use music as an example, Beethoven can evoke a lot of emotion in those who have developed an ear for classical music and enjoy such music. Others prefer a more direct approach of a shouted out emotional state as found in Death Metal Rock. Still others are looking for a quick attack/release cycle of emotions as found in pop and techno music. (Ever notice the 90's techno always dropped the background music for a few seconds at the height of the song? It's a cheap trick, but it has serious emotional and cognitive impact on the listener.)

Taking this back to video games, it's not the chores themselves that make Brain Age interesting. It's being placed in a situation where you have to react and think quickly. Simple math and puzzles are used as the vehicle for such tests. For some players, the pressure being placed on them to get a better score is reward in of itself. This is similar to the reward one gets by blasting through a shoot-em'up while avoiding the gazillion+1 enemies that are hogging the screen space. Pressure is put on you to perform, and a certain reward is felt when you achieve a good performance level. One can even be proud of their achievement by sharing their score with others. In the old days, this meant entering your initials into the arcade machine. For Brain Age, this means having a normalized and easily relatable score to brag to your friends about.

My end point is that these games aren't "boring" at all. They are just as interactive as other forms of gaming. The only difference is in the audience they appeal to. Just as country music appeals to some while death metal rock appeals to others. It takes all kinds.

Yes, but... (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241325)

Fantastic settings implicitly demand that the player makes an effort to understand the world that the game is situated in, whether it involves magic, borderline-magical technology, or just plain weird situations. A mundane setting obviates that, but at the same time it strips the whole arrangment of any mystique that it might have otherwise had. Part of the presentation, and of the draw of the game as a whole, is its trappings-- something like Brain Age doesn't need a backstory like Warcraft or the Lord of the Rings, but at the same time, how many people are interested in playing a Real Life MMO? And no, Second Life or the various ARGs don't count, because they simply drip fantasy... and other, less mentionable substances.

Why does it seem ... (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241401)

... everything needs to be "dumbed down" for the masses these days? *sigh*

Why does it seem ...I don't get what I want? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242851)

Maybe because the "elite" games weren't selling well despite all the complaining to the contrary about "gameplay" this, and "gameplay" that. Maybe a little more piracy will help springboard the game industry into producing quality titles at a low, low, low cost. Hey! If it's good enough for movies, and music? Then it's good enough for games.

Duh (1)

MorpheousMarty (1094907) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241507)

Brain age sold well because it claimed to make you smarter and your brain younger. Their market was literally dumb people who wanted a game to fix that. That is like printing your own money. Games shouldn't get more mundane, they just need to make more outrageous claims. I'm thinking an immune system boost version of Mario Paint would sell nicely.

If there is a demand for more boring games, (0, Flamebait)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241667)

then Eve-Online would be obliterating World of Warcraft's subscription numbers.

Who? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19241713)

Hmm, and what has he ever been involved in creating? Some instructional games carrying a activist message that no one's ever heard of? Yeah, I'm positive this guy knows what kind of games people want to play, and why they do.

Games (1)

Xymor (943922) | more than 6 years ago | (#19241901)

IMHO, games like any kind of media, should have various genres and kinds to appeal to different types of audiences.

Usually people that are into jet-lee movies aren't into Woody Allen movies and people into Gershwin aren't into 50cent.
I find Britney Spear songs train-wrecks, but a lot of people must like it seen how many million albuns she's sold. Same with Pokemon and most Nintendo games.

Make several diferent games in several genres targetting different audiences.

They've tried this before (1)

The Orange Mage (1057436) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242017)

Anyone play Myst before?

Most boring game I've ever played, yet it sold in numbers that are only beaten by the Sims, which is incredible for Myst's time. However, I just couldn't get into a clickable slideshow. Felt like going to an art museum. Even text-based games are more exciting. So I think Myst was just a hype thing, a fluke. No way a game so boring could legitimately be popular. Nope.

It's innovation baby. (1)

the_crowing (992960) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242083)

The reason games like Brain Age and a lot of Wii titles can be so simple, yet so successful is because they offer a completely new and original way to play video games. When video games first appeared on the market, the fact that they were a completely new form of entertainment is what sucked people in, and compared to what video games have become, these first games were quite 'boring'. I think, in time, we'll see a similar trend with these new games that are experimenting with motion sensitivity and the like. Eventually they will improve and branch off into completely new genres and the games that initiated this change will be regarded as primitive and 'boring'.

boring games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19242277)

I've longed for a game that is basically an interface to my work. That way I could play all day and still get stuff done. ... hold on, one of those pesky trolls down in Customer Support just sent me a message via carrier-nightgaunt...

I can hardly wait... (1)

suitepotato (863945) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242383)

...for Waiting for Duke Nukem Forever. Navigating around the cubicle farm at work, eating, sleeping, commenting on /., joking about Soviet somewhere or other... Then Uwe Boll can make a movie about it.

Arcade vs Hardcore PC/Console gameplay (1, Interesting)

joeflies (529536) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242539)

I think that the magazines for home PC and console games tend to cater to the hardcore crowd - guys that can love games and will spend hundreds of hours on them. They have wanted difficult games or the games will be poorly reviewed.

Unfortunately that may only apply to 5-10% of the gaming public. What Nintendo has been doing is making games for everyone else. What nintendo has done is gone to make games for casual players, non-traditional gamers (like brainage puzzles), and cross-age groups. Sony doesn't get it either, as the PSP has been full of long difficult games too, all the while Nintendo DS comes out with stuff like Cooking Mama and creates a fad around pretending to slice vegetables.

Now the arcade paradigm, which doesn't require even more than 2-3 minutes of game play per game, has been disappearing from the consoles too, because of the focus on hardcore gameplay. That is largely missing from XBOX 360 except for the live downloads.

Even last month's Game Informer magazine had an editorial that tore into the general public making hardcore games too easy.

So it's not a matter of "boring games", but rather the games that the hardcore gamer and media have largely chose to ignore, which is what the casual gamer wants.

Dunno about you... (1)

andrewd18 (989408) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242595)

... but I don't enjoy my mundane life. Which is exactly why I like games that have "unrealistic" settings.

Re:Dunno about you... (1)

deanoaz (843940) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243605)

Exactly.

That's why when I play a game it's so I can do something I don't do in real life (driving extremely fast, shooting people, blowing things up, driving fast and shooting people while running over other people, commanding a group and having them kill people and blow things up for me, etc).

p.s.(I forgot to mention flying around while shooting people and blowing things up.)

Article is completely wrong (4, Interesting)

dj_tla (1048764) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242861)

It sounds like the writer of this article does not really grasp the reason why Brain Age, and for that matter, all games, are fun. Brain Age is fun because we learn as we play. Halo is fun because we learn as we play. Brain Age does this transparently; openly offering challenges to the player that test certain skills. Games like Halo do the same thing: we are constantly seeing new challenges that test our skills to navigate, aim, conserve ammo, etc. Games are not fun when they are too hard, as there is too much noise and we can't get a worthwhile signal out of it without excessive effort filtering out the noise. I don't particularly like FPS's, nor do I enjoy jazz music, and you could say it's because I don't understand it enough to learn from it. Games are not fun when they are too easy, as we feel that we've grokked [wikipedia.org] the game, and there's nothing else to learn from it. After you hit the glitch level in Pac-man, what's the point in continuing?

The author clearly shows his lack of understanding in this quote: It is a game of chores, really, not of challenges. Games like speed arithmetic and number tracing actually become maddeningly dull after only a short time, but many players persist because they want to have the sensation of keeping their minds sharp. [...] [It] makes people feel as though they are improving their long term mental health. It satisfies a mundane need for personal upkeep.

I played Brain Age daily until I unlocked the final challenge-dealie (I think it's the one where you say the numbers instead of write them?). Then I stopped. Along the way, it was nice to see improvement in each challenge over time, but after a while I would plateau, and that game would stop being fun to me. I kept playing so that I could unlock the other games, as they would offer me new situations to learn. If all the games had been available to me at the start, I would have stopped playing far earlier, and that unlock system is one of the great ideas that other games of Brain Age's ilk have adopted. I would love to know how many people keep playing regularily after all challenges are unlocked and they are not seeing significant improvements.

Of course, all of this is not something I thought consciously as I was playing. I realized it after reading A Theory of Fun for Game Design [theoryoffun.com]. A great read, and really has made me think twice about why I enjoy some games and not others.

that would certainly explian success of WoW (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 6 years ago | (#19242967)

boooooring. thank god i beat that addiction. all it took was a divorce. phew... i got off easy.

sorry but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19243017)

"Would games become more accessible if they tapped into everyday things a little bit more, as opposed to spiraling off into fictional realities?" sorry but this was already patented by Will Wright. havn't u ever played the sims?

no way (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243073)

Games are all about escapism and fantasy fulfillment. The last thing I want is a weekly shopping simulator.
If I want boring and mundane I'll log into life 2.0.

More boring? (1)

axia777 (1060818) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243281)

Uh, NO. I don't ever want games to "more boring". In short I think that guy is crackers. I want over stimulation when I play games. Like Devil May Cry 3. I want adrenaline rushes and laughs. More boring? That is all just crazy talk. If I want "more boring" I will play Nintendogs with my 7 year old daughter. Other wise hook me up with some Star Craft 2, Crysis, UnReal 3, Metal Gear Solid 4, or Lair. That is the stuff I bought a PS3 and an $1800 computer for!

Absolutely not! (1)

Enderwiggin13 (734997) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243353)

I play games for the escapism. If I wanted mundane I'd stick to my real life and go to work, do my laundry and clean my house...or I guess I could play the Sims.

Re:Absolutely not! (1)

amuro98 (461673) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243611)

Exactly.

Which makes me wonder... If video game characters had "home lives" would their video games be things like "Office Cubicle"? ;)

I can just see Snake sitting in front of his TV playing this muttering "This game rocks! Oops, more TPS report coversheets to fill out! Woo-hoo! Man, I wish I could get paid to play this game. I'd play it 10-12 hours a day! Well, that's enough for now, I gotta get to work and bust that convuluted terrorist plotline by Friday. Where's my cardboard box?"

srsly! (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#19243695)

serious games creator Ian Bogost


He's so serious, his games are all boring [persuasivegames.com], with such sleeper hits as Xtreme Xmas Shopping, Bacteria Salad, Xtreme Errands and who could forget the gut-churning action of The Howard Dean for Iowa Game, and my personal favorite: Activism, The Public Policy Game.

This guy is serious alright, seriously deranged. He probably gets aroused while doing his taxes. His rant and much of the other "interviews" he does are little more than attention grabs, dropping names here and there trying to compare himself to the market giants. Big head with a small brain.
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